Former world champion Jenson Button has articulated a glowing endorsement of Max Verstappen, applauding his adeptness in adapting his driving style to suit his race car, an ability Button argues is not possessed by every driver. Button’s praises emerge from his own experiences as a teammate with Lewis Hamilton on the McLaren team, a time during which he gained profound insights into the racing mechanics of both drivers.
Speculations have been rife that the Red Bull team has designed their cars as a tailor-made fit for Verstappen. These speculations were fueled by conversations from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, and comments made by Hamilton suggesting he had previously faced stronger teammates than Verstappen. In an interview with Sky Sports at Goodwood Revival, Button added volume to these whispers, stating that he too believes Verstappen’s vehicles are indeed built around him.
“I think Lewis has had world champions as teammates, but I would be more fearful going against Max,” Button revealed. “The Red Bull car is designed for him, or Adrian Newey gives him a car tailored to his style. Moreover, Newey might say, ‘This is the quickest car in the world. Removing some front downforce might slow it down, but it will be easier to handle.’ And Max has a knack for driving it to its maximum potential, a feat that leaves many drivers trailing behind.”
Sharing his thoughts on the ongoing debate triggered by Hamilton, Button confessed that Hamilton has had tougher teammates than Verstappen, but it doesn’t make going against the Dutchman any less daunting. He expressed a desire to see more intense competition at the forefront, between drivers such as Verstappen, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who he considers to be the best in the world.
In a discussion about current McLaren racer Lando Norris, who is rumored to be a potential future teammate of Verstappen, Button offered advice based on his own experiences. He emphasized the importance of Norris being comfortable with his vehicle and how difficult it can be for drivers to adapt to a Red Bull car, a challenge that Verstappen seems to have taken in his stride.
“Lando has a tough choice,” Button declared. “His current car cannot win now or even next year, probably. So, he must think beyond, maybe 2025, or put his faith in McLaren. They’ve won races and championships before, so it can turn around. If he can’t see that future, then he should face Verstappen in his territory. However, that’s a rigid hill to climb.”